Now you may be wondering what bereavement has to do with SD. I had no clue either at this point. My voice was in and out but I was functioning normally, or so it would seem to others. However, I knew something was still wrong but I buried it away in my mind.

In 2006 my life suddenly changed. I was plodding along nicely, all seemed well, and out of nowhere my mother was diagnosed with cancer. My mother and I had always clashed but her diagnosis and death affected me in a way I was not expecting. Of course she was my mother and I loved her but there was also difficulties in our relationship over the years.

I left America and arrived back in the UK for three months. Suddenly I noticed my SD creeping back in. Oh no, here we go. People were either too caught up in their own grief to notice or too polite to say. My family history is very complex and let’s just say all of us being together under the same roof was a disaster. Bad energy. Not from everyone but there was certainly a huge division in the family.

It became so toxic in the house my voice almost completely went. I naturally thought I was anxious, what with my mother dying upstairs, and all my siblings fighting.

My mother suddenly made an announcement that she wanted Ava Maria sang live at her funeral. No pressure then. I thought, how am I going to arrange that! I know, I will phone my old school they must have a choir. I spoke to my old music teacher on the phone. Oh God what an awful conversation. I couldn’t get my words out I had no inflection in my voice. I thought he will think I am an idiot. Well guess what he thought? He thought I sounded angry!! Well that is what I was informed by a delightful member of my family.

How dare he! Angry!! I was just trying to speak. I never liked him anyway-shall I make a voodoo doll and stick pins in him. How rude of him. I don’t want his stupid choir my mum will just have to make do with a taped version. Too risky, she will haunt me for the rest of my life. And believe me she would, and enjoy every minute of it.

As I didn’t want my mum to haunt me I had to go ahead with the offer of the choir. Ignorant man, where did he get off talking about me to my sibling. I hoped he wouldn’t come to the church.

However, deep down I was thinking ‘ I’ve been found out’ he noticed something and his interpretation of my voice was anger. The truth was I did like him he was trying to help. I wasn’t angry with him, the only person I was angry with was myself for not being able to speak. I was now feeling very sad.

My mum died in January 2006. It was surreal. The expression ‘stuck for words’ must have been invented by someone with SD, because that’s what I was, literally stuck for words. I looked at my mothers lifeless body for a long time. All my childhood memories came flooding back. The memories that were not so good suddenly went away and were replaced with good thoughts. I felt calm and peaceful sitting with my dead mother.

Well that didn’t last for long. The chaos started pretty soon after. Arranging the funeral, continued arguing, making phone calls (count me out). Everyone was so busy trying to be the best, talking about how close they were to my mum and how many times a year they saw her. It was like a competition.

If you didn’t see her regularly because you lived overseas your grief was discounted
If she didn’t visit you as much as another sibling you had no right to feel sad
I felt like an orphan, my dad was dead too. I couldn’t stand what was happening. I wanted to run away from the house and never come back. My voice was getting worse by the day. Sometimes I didn’t know if my tears were for my mum or my voice.

The beast was back in full force. God I was sick of it I was exhausted trying to cover it up. Maybe I needed that exorcism after all. I will ask my mums priest I thought. Maybe he can bless me and release whatever needed releasing. I was desperate at this point.

But of course, the nice Irish priest was there for my mother not me. I thought to myself, should I steal some of that holy water he puts on my mums head. I could drink it, yes that would help my voice.

The funeral came and went. The choir was amazing. Thank You ex music teacher! My mother was then cremated to Frank Sinatra’s  ‘My Way’ Oh she certainly did it her way alright. Nothing wrong with that I suppose.

After my mothers funeral everyone gradually started to return to their lives. I knew my family would never be the same. Lot’s of us didn’t really like each other. Most of it had been a facade anyway. Did it matter? I had 3 siblings I have good relationships with to this day. Three is enough right? There was eight of us-far too many if you want my opinion.

So, what happened to my voice? I think it pressed the mute button. I just didn’t have the energy or even more worrying the capability to speak. I was jekyll and hyde at this point, still telling fibs, still covering it up. I was two people. My voice was in and out, in and out, constant change. Make your mind up for the sake of my sanity. Either come back and work properly, or go away forever and I just won’t speak, but don’t mess me about like this. I would walk into shops and think Oh God don’t speak to me. Where I come from everybody does just that, even strangers want to have a conversation!

And so it continued. I thought I had mastered it after all those alternative therapies and connecting with my spiritual side. What now?

Well I had no choice. I went back to Los Angeles and it felt like I had entered the abyss.

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